Kassim Ahmad: The Hero We Don’t Deserve!

We, Muslims, have come to a point where we revere scholars who push absurdities in the name of Islam, but slander those who seek to purify Islam from the dogmatic image it has acquired. Getting all our knowledge of Islam from these scholars instead of reading the Quran for ourselves, we, as a whole, have become so perplexed that we can’t even distinguish between concepts that are Islamic and concepts that are un-Islamic. So, our current condition is our karma. And, this is exactly what happens when people abandon their right to think for themselves, handing it over to others. What an ironic gift this is to the Creator of human intelligence!

Recently, Mr. Kassim Ahmad, who is one of the great Muslim thinkers of our times, was taken into custody by the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department (JAWI) over what they call “controversial statements” he made about Islam at a seminar held in February. (You can read his statements here)

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JAWI, is this what your Islam teaches you? To imprison anybody who goes against your views on religion? It’s strange, because the Quran that I’ve read advocates absolute freedom of speech to express one’s opinions. What happened to, “Let there be no compulsion in matters of faith” (Quran, 2:256), and “The truth is from your Nourisher-Sustainer, so whoever wills — let him believe; and whoever wills — let him disbelieve.” (Quran, 18:29)

Was that not clear enough for you to stop going around imposing your authority on people who disagree with you? But, I would be naive to make such a plea. How could you stay silent? The truth of the matter is that you feel intimidated by him, and worry that you will lose your control over Muslims who may find that the “controversial statements” he made are in fact very Quranic indeed. After all, are you not in this for the power? Do you think that we’re stupid, and don’t realize your need to monopolize Islam for your petty purposes?

No, JAWI. We see perfectly well what is going on here. And this has been the case throughout the times when reform-minded individuals approached the established rulers. When Musa (Moses) approached Firaun (Pharoah), this is what he had to say:

Pharaoh said, “If you choose an authority other than me, I will surely put you in prison.” Quran, 26:29

Make no mistake about it; yours are the very institutions that Prophets and other futuristic individuals have fought against. So, enough already! Stop fooling people in the name of Islam, for your actions are anything but against it.

It saddens me, and breaks my heart to see the way we treat this noble man who only wishes that Muslims revert back to the Quran and stop mixing Islam with Arabic culture. Amidst the ridiculous Fatwas (religious rulings) and irrationalities of prominent Muslim scholars such as promoting child marriage, a truly commendable free-thinker like Mr. Kassim Ahmad comes off as a breath of fresh air. A sign that all hope is not lost for Islam, that maybe – just maybe we can trace our footsteps back to the Quran and become the Muslims God wants us to be.

But, no! How dare he question our beliefs? What right does he have to tell us to reform and get rid of the un-Quranic laws that the Ulema have imposed upon us? No, Mr. Kassim Ahmed, we all wish to remain in collective ignorance and celebrate our leaders that have put us in this honorable position. We, certainly, will not tolerate your call for reform. For realizing the need to reform, we must first realize that there is something wrong with the way we have understood Islam. And, we are simply not ready for that. Not when our scholars promise us heaven in exchange for simply uttering the Kalma (Proclamation of belief in Islam). We as always are right, and you are wrong! Let us live blissfully in our ignorance, and please don’t disturb us.

 

I am sorry, Mr. Kassim. But, we have failed you. Yet again, we have failed to honor a leader like yourself that would release us from the shackles these clergymen impose upon us. We don’t deserve you, sir.

We don’t deserve you.

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This article was also featured in The Malay Mail Online and Free Malaysia Today

 

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Stop Monopolizing Allah!

Amidst the mournful incident of MH 370, it was reported recently that the Malaysian Islamic Propagation Organisation (Pekida) was willing to suffer a bloodbath for Islam and the country, including defending the word “Allah”.

Bloodbath – right. Thanks for using such a non-violent term to represent Islam. We really needed that! Ironically, the biggest enemies of Islam are not people outside of Islam, rather the very prominent representatives of Islam who, for some reason, never fail to bring shame to us all. So, cheers to the new round!

Let me assure you, as long as we have organizations like Pekida around, you can be sure that Islam will remain a laughing stock for the masses. And, why shouldn’t they? When Muslim leaders come out with such insane stuff, how can we expect any better?

Instead of using their prominent position to their benefit in bringing a positive light to Islam, they’d rather prefer wasting other people’s time by focusing on the most ridiculous and silliest of things. Today, they want non-Muslims to refrain from using the word Allah. Tomorrow, who knows? I mean, we’ve digressed to a point where we now want a copyright on “Allah”. Shameful, to say the least!

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Islam is not an Arabic religion
Muslims make a big mistake by mixing Arabic culture with Islam. Many believe that it was Prophet Mohammad who brought Islam, but this can’t be further away from what the Quran says. The truth of the matter is that Islam is not a recent, 7th century Arabic religion. It is the same religion that was revealed to all prophets:

He has ordained for you all, the same System of Life that He enjoined upon Noah – And We have revealed to you (O Prophet!) the same message as We enjoined upon Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: “Establish the Divine System of Life and make no sects in it (do not be divided). Quran, 42:13

Prophet Mohammad said: And I have followed the religion of my fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Quran, 12:38

Having established that, it is obvious that Prophets throughout the times referred to God in their own respective languages. Hence, Allah is not a proper noun for the “God of Muslims.” It simply means “The God” in Arabic. Since the Quran is in Arabic, it refers to the Supreme Being as Allah. Similarly, if it was in any other language, it would refer to Him by the equivalent word for God in that very language.

From a Quranic point of view, one can observe that Allah is not the name of a unique God that Muslims believe in, rather it is an all encompassing term for the Supreme Being regardless of the faith one subscribes to. Christians, Jews, and other religious group are seen as using the word Allah to denote God in the Quran, and never has this been contested in any verse (5:17, 5:18, 5:72, 5:73). To give you a few examples:

Surely those who acknowledge (this divine book); and those who are Jewish, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whomever of them acknowledges Allah and the Last Day (Accountability) and does acts of reform; they will have their reward with their Lord, with no fear over them, nor will they grieve. Quran, 2:62

If we are to assume that believing in Allah equates to believing in Islam, then the first phrase of the verse loses purpose. After all, the gist of the verse is that no matter your religion, as long as you believe in God and continually reform yourself, you could expect reward.

A similar case is presented in the following verses

“And they claim, ‘None will enter Paradise unless he is a Jew or a Christian.’ This is nothing but their wishful thinking. Say: Bring your proof if you are truthful.”Quran, 2:111

“Nay, whoever submits his whole being to Allah, and he is a doer of good to humanity, his reward is with his Lord. Then, no fear shall come upon them nor shall they grieve.” Quran, 2:112

Hence, it is clear that Allah is used to denote God in Arabic as a noun, and not a proper noun.

God does not have a fixed name

Say, “Call upon God (Allah), or call upon the Almighty (Rahman): By whatever name you call upon Him, to Him belongs the best names and attributes of perfection…” Quran, 17:110

 

Conclusion
Did the members of Pekida never read the Quran for themselves? This is not something that requires intensive research, as it is blatantly obvious! So, what kinds of people are representing Islam in Malaysia? As always, the authority lies in the wrong hands.

Muslims, I sincerely urge you to start focusing on the big picture – things that really matter. It is high time we transcend petty arguments, and get involved in educating ourselves about the Quran and others around us to clear such misconceptions that certain individuals impose upon Islam.

Allah is not a trademark that Muslims own, and neither do Muslims own the Arabic language. It is about time we realize that.

 

This article was also featured in The Malaysian Insider, The Malay Mail Online, and ARY News.

 

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Thank you, readers!

Hey, folks!  Hope you’re having a great day, as I am!

I woke up today to the sound of my alarm clock, and performed my morning ritual (pre-brushing!): Check my Facebook, Gmail, and WordPress. And oh boy, I was exuberant to find that my blog has hit 10,000 views in almost 3 months!

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To be honest, I never expected so many people to read my blog. At best, I thought, I could use this blog to track the progression of my views, and maybe make someone question their beliefs. Some, in my dictionary, certainly does not equate to 10,000. 😛

These 3 months of blogging have been a hell of an experience! My blogs have been featured on some fairly popular websites, having received a great response. Knowing that I am playing my part in spreading a message of peace and re-claiming Islam from the dogmatic hands of some pompous leaders, I have a deep sense of contentment within myself. Not only that, I am glad to have communicated with so many wonderful people who support this blog, and seek to separate cultural Islam from Quranic Islam. I’ve received messages, comments, and emails of gratitude which continually encourage me to express myself and share my views.

So, I write this to convey my thanks to you. To let you know that I really appreciate your participation in this blog. And, I hope that we carry this alliance for the times to come!

Here’s to our achievement of reaching out to people!

In peace and love,

Ro Waseem

Does The Quran Really Permit Child Marriage?

One of the biggest misconceptions about Islam is that it permits child marriage, and is therefore looked down upon as medieval, oppressive and illogical by non-Muslims. Shockingly, instead of viewing this as a downright tarnation and disgrace to Islam, Muslims in complete ignorance of the Quran actually defend and support this point of view! If Muslims, themselves, are going to portray such an image of their religion, then I really don’t see why they would get agitated with the criticism on Islam.

I say this with my deepest regrets, but Muslims have become their own worst enemies. Practically abandoning the pivotal commandment of Islam on independent reasoning, they have substituted it with an unprecedented trust in the “authorities” on Islam. And yet again, they have succeeded to bring shame to us all.

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Recently, The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) passed a ruling that “Pakistani laws prohibiting marriage of underage children are un-Islamic, and that according to Islam, there is no minimum age of marriage. However, the Rukhsati (consummation of marriage) is allowed only in the case that both husband and wife have reached puberty. Furthermore, Under shariah, a man is not bound to seek approval for second marriage from the first wife,” declared the spokesperson.

What a way to celebrate Islam!

How we allow them to get away with such a ridiculous statement is beyond me. Not only are these rulings contrary to common sense and human dignity; they have no basis in the Quran whatsoever. As the Quran is the primary source of guidance in Islam, secondary sources can only be accepted if and only they do not contradict the Quran, or add additional rules to it. For, the Quran is fully detailed, perfect, and complete (6:114-115) and acts as the Criterion (Furqan) above all (25:1).

Without taking anymore of your valuable time, let’s get straight to the crux of the matter!

Part 1: Child Marriage

The Quran equates marriageable age to a mature and sound judgment:

“And test the orphans [in your charge] until they reach a marriage­able age; then, if you find them to be mature of mind/sound in judgment, hand over to them their possessions…” (Quran, 4:6)

Please pay close attention here. Marriageable age is equated to sound judgment; an age in which a person can responsibly handle their possessions. For heaven’s sake, are you really trying to tell me that a person is sound in judgment at the tender age of, say, 12? Give me a break!

It is illogical to assume that a 12 year old child has a mature intellectual level. After all, those years are meant to be a learning curve for the child: a crucial time in which a child shapes his whole personality by exploring different paradigms and attaining valuable experience on life. Undertaking such a huge responsibility would greatly affect the child psychologically, as they would be deprived of the time and space required to undergo a personal change and discover themselves.

Furthermore, such scenarios are by default rapes of children, since children have not developed and matured in sexual awareness to comprehend sex. To make it worse, traditional teachings involves psychological and sexual imposition of a man upon a girl who then surrenders under the circumstances, probably scarring her for life.

sound judgment

The Quran advises Muslims to marry Monotheists:
“Do not marry the females who set up partners until they acknowledge.  An acknowledging servant is better than one who sets up partners, even if she attracts you. Similarly, do not marry the males who set up partners until they acknowledge. An acknowledging servant is better than one who sets up partners even if he attracts you” (Quran, 2:221)

A similarity of belief systems and common ground are necessary to establish a healthy relationship. How can children be expected to have a grasp of theology, when they are mentally incapable to do so? Usually, at that age, children would blindly follow whatever their parents teach them. This type of enforcement of beliefs is severely discouraged in the Quran on many occasions. As mentioned earlier, parents have to give children their own space to formulate their views before they even think of marrying them.

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The Quran terms marriage as a solemn oath:
And how could you take it away (marital gift) after you have given yourselves to one another, and she has  received a most solemn pledge from you? (Quran, 4:21)

Marriage is no child’s play. It demands a huge amount of responsibility from both individuals: something children are definitely not ready for.  Therefore, the Quran makes no compromises on this fact, terming marriage a “most solemn pledge.” To suggest that Allah would even allow, leave aside encourage, an individual to get into a “solemn pledge” without discovering themselves from a psychological, physical, and social perspective is nothing short of insulting the idea of creation.

The Quran forbids forcing women to marry by compulsion:

O You who have chosen to be graced with belief! It is not lawful for you to force women into marrying or holding on to them in marriage against their will. (Quran, 4:19)

Would an innocent child, on their own merit, entertain the idea of marriage? The immense responsibility of marriage is one that children do not even have the intellectual capacity to grasp thoroughly. They would only entertain it if they are heavily influenced by the parents. This, as you see above, is severely discouraged.

forced marriage

The Quran expects the male partner to financially support his wife:
Let them (the divorced women) live where you live with the same standard of living that you have, and according to your best means. Harass them not to make life difficult for them. And if they are pregnant, spend on them freely until they deliver their burden. Then, if they nurse your baby, give them their due recompense.  And frequently consult together amicably.  And if both of you find it difficult, let another woman suckle the baby on her behalf.  (Quran, 65:6)

So, Mr. enlightened soul, how do you expect a 12 year old to earn a living now? Is he supposed to get an education, or is he supposed to labor in order to be able to financially support his spouse? Another ruling should be in order: Education is un-Islamic for children who attain puberty! Go make a living and support your teenage wife! Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised!

Part 2: The Misconception about Verse 4, Chapter 65

And those who no longer expect menstruation among your women – if you doubt, then their (waiting) period is three months (relating to divorce), and [also for] those who did not menstruate. And for those who are pregnant, their term is until they give birth. (Quran, 65:4)

Here, traditional voices would have you believe that “those who did not menstruate” refers to prepubescent girls who have not “yet” attained puberty, thereby concluding that Islam permits child marriage. What is shameful is that they deliberately add the word “yet” to justify their medieval thought, which is to be found nowhere in the Arabic text of the verse.

Let’s dissect the verse, shall we? The verse starts off by discussing the waiting period for women who have ceased to menstruate, in the case of a divorce. Therefore, it has laid the context of adult women who are of menstruating age. Obviously then, “those who did not menstruate” is from the context of adult women who are supposed to menstruate, but did not do so. This medical condition is called Amenorrhea where a woman does not have menstrual periods. The waiting period for such women, then, is the same – 3 months.

Part 3: Is the permission of the first wife necessary to marry a second wife?

Polygamy is only to be practiced in exceptional cases:

If you fear that you will not be just/equitable to the orphans, then marry as permissible for you, women, two, three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then only one, or to whom you are committed to by oath. That is better so that you do not deviate from the right course”. (Quran, 4:3)

Without getting into too much detail, it is obvious from this verse that polygamy is not allowed to satisfy sexual lusts of men. It can only be practiced in the case of taking care of orphans (by marrying their mothers).

Moreover, the verse emphasizes on the fact that all wives must get a just and equitable treatment, in the unusual case of polygamy. If a man were to marry another woman without getting the consent of his first wife, how on earth can you call that justice?  Justice is only served when both parties receive it. “But if you fear that you will not be just, then only one…”

 

Conclusion

When-they-commit-anIt is absolutely clear from the Quran that child marriage is something God never authorized. Child marriage is detrimental to the overall well-being of children, and quite frankly, is another form of slavery. The psychopathic mentality that allows this is a sign of a very sick and disturbed mind, something that seems to be much abundant within the clergy-class. Any rational person can immediately identify the evils of such an oppressive act. It surprises me to see how a beacon of light is manipulated by a bunch of misogynistic individuals to enslave billions around the world!

“Have you considered those who were asked to accept judgment from Allah’s Book? When they are asked to accept judgment from Allah’s Book, some of them turn their backs and walk away!” (Quran, 3:23)

Would you then, O fellow Muslim, rethink your stance?

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The Fall And Rise Of Adam: How It Speaks To Me!

Disclaimer: I feel that this post has the potential to be misinterpreted, so let me clarify my position beforehand. I am not suggesting that this perspective reflects the true account of what happened. And, for the conservatives, this is not a “modern re-interpretation.” This, simply, is one of the ways I personally resonate with Adam’s account mentioned in the Quran.

Adam is the very first figure we come across in the Quran (Ch2 V30). We are told of the origin of mankind, and how he was tempted by the “tree” of greed which lead to his downfall. This, I think, you are perfectly aware of.

Notwithstanding the original account, allow me to share my perspective.

I’ve always looked at the account of Adam in terms of our evolution from birth to attaining spiritual liberation – a pattern, I believe, any spiritual person can relate to. If we view it as such, and put ourselves in Adam’s place, we realize that everyone is born into Paradise – a state of bliss: A state, in which most of us, live in abundance and joy, enjoying the little pleasures of life.

“And We said: “O Adam, dwell thou and thy partner in this garden, and eat freely thereof, both of you, whatever you may wish; but do not approach this one tree, lest you become oppressors.” Quran, 2:35

However, as we grow older, Shaitan (I take it to be the negative aspects of society, in this case) tempts us towards the “tree” of greed, obscenities and oppression; which causes us to “fall” from our blissful state. This degradation makes us live a lowly existence, resulting in enmity with one another and division as a whole, all because of a lack of peace and contentment within ourselves.

“But Satan caused them both  to stumble therein and got them out of the happy state they were in. And so We said, Degraded you have become with wedges of discord among yourselves! There shall be for you habitation and livelihood on earth for a while.” Quran, 2:36

Unfortunately, most of us never transcend this stage. Running behind the daily chores of life, we ultimately fail to fulfill the purpose of life: evolving our souls. Not all are content with this condition, though. That’s when we seek some change in our lives, seeking what you would call a “paradigm shift.”

The spiritual quest begins. We explore different paths, and finally come across a path that speaks to us louder than others. Feeling ecstatic, we are consumed and are redeemed by the Beloved’s messages; regaining peace and contentment within ourselves while becoming one with God again.

“Thereupon Adam received words [of guidance] from his Sustainer, and He accepted his repentance: for, verily, He is the Acceptor of Repentance, the Dispenser of Grace.” Quran, 2:37

For-certainly

Thank God for God! 🙂

 

Related article: Stages of Consciousness

 

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Let’s be honest: Do you really believe in the Day of Judgment?

Over the years, belief has become a problematic word for me. Religious people are too fixated on scoring brownie points with God by exhausting all their efforts into believing this and believing that, all the while, failing to utilize that belief into something productive that makes them grow. It seems to me that people have made religion into a document that supposedly leads them to heaven just by signing on it (proclaiming they believe in it). What a shameful way to belittle God, this is!

The Quran, like any other book, is not to be “believed”, rather it is a self-help book that needs to be internalized so that the reader may evolve as a person. Quoting 14:1, “A book we have revealed to you so that you may bring people out of darkness towards light.” This, of course, can only be achieved when you act on it.

Belief, you could say then, is only the initial step of a ladder that ultimately leads towards it’s implementation: Necessary to take, however not as an end in itself; rather as a means to an end. Therefore, it is only reasonable to say, a belief that doesn’t translate into action is hollow, worthless, and a downright mockery of the self. This, I constantly remind myself, is an act of hypocrisy. And, most abominable in the sight of God is that you say what you do not do. (Quran, 61:3)

One of the fundamental teachings of the Quran is to acknowledge the Day of Judgment. But, why? Not many of us ask that question. When I started reading the Quran, my approach was to believe everything I read, without questioning. After all, how could I question God? However, as I went deeper into the Quran, I realized that doubt is an essential part of faith and spirituality. It is only when you question, does the wisdom behind every commandment reveals itself.

So when I questioned the point behind there being a Day of Judgment, I realized that if internalized from the core of your being, this belief molds people into responsible citizens who make decisions not on impulse, but by weighing and analyzing the pros and cons of it. People who realize that they are accountable for all their actions would never even think of wronging somebody else in the least. This, if adopted as a whole, would lead to Islam: a peaceful world.

Governments, too, try to replicate this model in order to ensure law and order in society. However, this still leaves room for people to commit injustices and indecencies in their private spaces, as well as public spaces through corruption. But there is no corruption in the court of God, is what some of us forget. It is a just system that judges you on behalf of your actions, not your beliefs. Hence, acknowledging the Day of Judgment should not be the focus. The focus, rather, should be on tuning our actions to the point where they act as a witness to our belief.

However, it is truly unfortunate and perplexing to see that so many Muslims, despite “believing” in the Day of Accountability, reject accountability in spirit. Through fabricated stories outside of the Quran, it is widely believed that Mohammad (salutes and respect to him) would intercede on behalf of every Muslim. Pause there. Before you react, imagine a judicial system where criminals could receive amnesty, just because they were “favorites” of the Judge. Would you call that justice? Surely, not! Then, what picture have we painted of God?

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And so it is, if you were to ask any Muslim whether he acknowledges a Day of Judgment, he would swiftly respond in the affirmative. “Of course, I do!” Yet, on the contrary, these very Muslims, though not all, don’t think twice before committing injustices and obscenities. Is that not a huge contradiction? The question that must be asked is, if you really believe in judgment, how is it that your actions don’t reflect it?

A million dollar question!

Are we not missing the point?

 

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